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REMEMBERING AN ARCTIC CAT LEGEND – DONN EIDE

Yesterday (9/19/22), I received news that Arctic Cat legend (and friend), Donn Eide, had passed away, and that makes me and many others who knew and worked with Donn, pretty sad today. My heart, thoughts and prayers go out to Donn’s family. He was one of the greats and will be dearly missed. I’m thankful our paths crossed in life as he was someone I truly admired and respected. -Kale

Most recently, I had a nice conversation with Donn at the Arctic Cat 60th Homecoming event. As we were looking over an arena floor full of incredible Arctic Cat snowmobiles, I asked Donn the fictitious question, “If you could go home with just one snowmobile in this arena today Donn, what would it be?” He pondered a bit, then turned around and pointed behind us, “Probably the Boss Cat. Those always captured my imagination.” Shortly after this photo, Donn and I parted ways as he wanted to see his longtime friend, Jim Dimmerman, pictured here in the background behind Donn.
Here’s a great photo of Donn and Jim Dimmerman. I’m nearly certain they had a long conversation about the restored Elsner sled that Donn is sitting on. The engine knowledge shared between these two is staggering. Jim has remarked to me in the past, “There are very few people in this world who truly understand 2-stroke engine development. Donn is one of them.”


This photo of Donn was taken by John Sandberg at the Media introduction of the all-new 600 CTEC2 engine hosted at the St. Cloud, MN engine facility. At the time, Donn was the Snowmobile Engine Design Manager at Arctic Cat. This was an engine Donn was proud of, and proud of the team that worked on it…and for good reason. To date, Id consider this one of Arctic Cat’s best engines in terms of performance and reliability. Some of the same architecture of this engine will be found on the 600 engine released in the all-new CATALYST platform for 2024. (READ THE ORIGINAL 600 CTEC2 STORY THAT ACCOMPANIED THIS PHOTO HERE)
Donn started with Arctic Cat in 1969 and retired in 2018. Above is a poster everyone could sign who attended a retirement party hosted in Thief River Falls at the Factory. (FOR MORE PHOTOS OF DONN AND OTHERS WHO RETIRED THAT DAY READ THE ORIGINAL STORY HERE)
Here’s Donn pictured between his 1965 120 D and 2015 XF 6000. To see what he had to say about the 50yr evolution between the models, READ THE STORY HERE
In 2010, John Sandberg shared a great interview between he and Donn which gives you some excellent background information on Donn and his career at Arctic Cat. Ive always been fond of Donn’s involvement with the introduction of the Yellowstone Special 4-stroke Arctic Cat snowmobile into the Yellowstone National Park. You can READ THAT INTERVIEW HERE.
Donn is featured a few times in the Arctic Cat 50th Anniversary video. If you have 1.5hrs of free time, every Arctic Cat fan should watch this video. If you don’t have that much time, fast forward to the 1:12 mark to watch the segment on 4-strokes and Donn’s involvement with introducing them to the Yellowstone National Park.
Much like meeting Donn at the Arctic Cat 60th, our paths would cross at various snowmobile events after Donn’s retirement from Arctic Cat. I was walking the swap section of the Midwest Ride-In two years ago in Elk River, MN, and I heard a familiar voice behind me. It was Donn, and he was talking to a swapper about the vintage Arctic Cat clothing he was selling. Donn casually remarked to the gentleman, “I have a whole closet full of this stuff Id like to sell.” I stood back and eaves-dropped on the conversation. The swapper immediately said, “What do you have? Ill buy it.” The man’s quick interest, seemed to lose Donn’s, and that’s when Donn glanced my way, and instantly lit up with a smile after seeing me standing there. I often reflect on that day and wonder if the swapper had any idea who he was talking to? This memory will forever be etched in my mind as Donn was always happy to see you, always pleasant and always interested in talking snowmobiles.
Here’s another photo of Donn from the 2021 Hay Days event. Donn waited for me to finish up some conversations with ArcticInsider fans before grabbing me to say Hi. That humble approach explained Donn in a nutshell and I was truly honored that’s how a legend (someone I admired) treated me.
Because of our working relationship and personal interests, Donn and my conversations typically hovered around snowmobiles but I do know he was quite proud and happy to be spending his free time enjoying his family, including his daughter, Trisha, pictured here.
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11 COMMENTS

  1. Donn was not only a creative and vastly experienced 2-stroke engine designer, he was also the nicest gentleman you would ever want to meet. It was my privilege to work with Donn on several projects during the latter part of his distinguished career. Rest In Peace, Donn.

  2. Donn was my high school classmate from Oslo MN high school class of 1968. I also live in Bemidji MN but didn’t get to meet often enough. I purchased a 2014 6000 El Tigre and asked him if it would be a good engine to have before I ordered it. He sent me an email about how it was developed and how they tested it for 250000 miles before it was approved. May he Rest In Peace and condolences to his family.

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